Rajkummar Rao, who plays Omar Sheikh, locates the human facet of the terrorist, but also delivers the psychopath lurking within, one with mood swings that go from geniality to outbursts and violence within seconds. (Image courtesy: TIFF)
It may have been a coincidence that Indian director Hansal Mehta's film Omerta had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 9/11, but it was certainly fitting.
After all, the film is a biopic of Pakistani-origin terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was among those involved in the planning of that attack 16 years ago.
That this is that rare subject, a biopic of a global jihadi is almost certain to attract criticism, but the director said, "I don't care. I had t tell a story and it's there."
Mehta started planning the film several years ago, producers changed during those years, before it finally came together. Mehta made it clear the film was not about making people comfortable: "Global audiences need to be provoked, need to respond to the film."
Much of Omar Sheikh's career is well-documented, starting with a kidnapping of four foreigners in New Delhi, his capture, and his subsequent release in exchange for the passengers aboard the Air India flight hijacked to Kandahar.
His fingerprints are there in major terror strike including 9/11 and 26/11 (though he was in a Pakistani jail at the time of the Mumbai attacks). He was the man behind the brutal beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, for which he was arrested and imprisoned in Pakistan.
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